The New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez announced Sunday morning he will play his final game at the end of the week, culminating a career in which the three-time MVP etched his name among the greatest in the sport’s history yet became a polarizing figure amid being suspended for a full season for steroid use.
Rodriguez’s farewell will take place Friday at Yankee Stadium against the Tampa Bay Rays. Following the game, he will be unconditionally released in order to sign a deal to become a special adviser with the club.
“This is a tough day. I love this game, and I love this team, and today I’m saying goodbye to both,” Rodriguez said as he choked back tears during a news conference at Yankee Stadium with his teammates in attendance. “Saying goodbye may be the hardest part of the job, but that’s what I’m doing today.”
Rodriguez ranks fourth all-time in home runs with 696, behind only Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714), but the designated hitter hasn’t been in the lineup since Aug. 2, fueling speculation his career was reaching its end.
“Management has told me I’ll get a few at-bats on Friday,” he said.
The Seattle Mariners made Rodriguez the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft. Several months later, he made his big league debut at 18. In 2000, Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 million deal, the largest in professional sports history, with the Texas Rangers.
In 2004, the Yankees acquired Rodriguez in exchange for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named. The Rangers agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 remaining on his contract. Three years later, Rodriguez signed with the Yankees for $275 million over 10 years, setting another record for the most lucrative deal in pro sports history.
In early February 2009, Rodriguez was linked to performance-enhancing drugs in a Sports Illustrated report. Several days later, he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season after an arbiter reduced the initial penalty of 211 games to 162 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
Rodriguez’s announcement is the latest move as the Yankees embark on a full rebuild. Among the significant moves General Manager Brian Cashman orchestrated at the trade deadline included trading relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, as well as slugger Carlos Beltran.
“Hopefully, I’ll be remembered as someone who tripped and fell a lot but kept getting up,” Rodriguez said.